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Inside St Catherine's College: An Oxford Student's Honest Review

By Chloe Pomfret

When UCAS released the outcome on offer day, I was met with a surprise. I’d received an offer from one of the world’s most prestigious universities - but it wasn’t at the college I had in mind. Enter Oxford’s pooling system, a behind the scenes process ensuring the most deserving candidates secure offers, regardless of the college’s application numbers. Redirected from the college I’d spent months choosing, my knowledge of St Catherine’s was limited, but after 2 years here I am glad fate drew me to Oxford’s lesser known college.


Catz is one of the more modern, progressive colleges, opening in 1962 and being among the first colleges to admit women, setting the example for others to follow. We are one of the largest colleges in Oxford with over 900 students, offering on-site accommodation for the first (or all) 3 years of your degree. 1st and 3rd years live in Old Quad with rooms being either box rooms or rooms with a sink. A few students receive an en-suite room in Old Quad, those available are usually given to students with medical or religious requirements. New Quad rooms are allocated to 2nd years and all are en-suites. New Quad is nicer (in my opinion) with a more modern design, a more spacious kitchen, the en-suite, and bigger beds.

For anyone at Catz, you’ll be familiar with the infamous architect Arne Jacobsen who created the college resembling a concrete jungle. Catz doesn’t resemble your typical Harry Potter dark academia college - apply to Christ Church or New College for that. They did film an episode of The Crown here though….


Catz is the only college to have the bar and JCR in the same space and with the large number of students, we are a very social and friendly college. I am biased, but 100% correct, when I say that Catz has the best JCR. Our bops are held here and given our large numbers, they’re a popular place to be. We also have our own college rugby, football, and rowing teams, with Catz having a reputation for attracting sporty students.


As a working class student, I was nervous coming to Oxford. Hearing of the state-private school divide and tales of classism and snobbery, I worried I would be excluded and looked down upon. However, Catz is one of the friendliest and most welcoming Oxford colleges. There is a nice mix of state and private school students, with students all over the world with a whole variety of different backgrounds. It was a nice surprise that no one cared what school you attended, nor how wealthy you are. The other pleasant surprise I had was how incredible the welfare support is at Catz. My tutors and Directors of Studies have gone above and beyond to support me. They’ve previously given me essay extensions, helped me sort out my disability and exam arrangements, and have helped me find solutions for any problems my estrangement brings up.


Catz certainly isn’t perfect. We’ve had our fair share of RAAC issues, our rent is more expensive than other colleges, and the vending machine never works. However, out of all the colleges I could’ve been pooled to, I got pretty lucky with Catz. So if you’re considering what colleges you should apply to, have a look at Catz!


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